Say you’ve rented an apartment, and everything seems to be in working order. One day, however, you noticed that your drain is blocked and causing you issues. The first thing that comes to mind may be to call your landlord or a property manager to arrange repairs. During the call, you find out that you’re actually responsible for the repairs, and not them. Can this be possible?
While it’s not an ideal scenario, there are circumstances where you may be responsible for the repairs. Even so, it’s highly dependent on the situation that this occurs in and can vary by state and city.
WHEN IS A LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR A BLOCKED DRAIN?
Even though this is dependent on where you live, a landlord is generally responsible for ensuring the place that you’re living in is habitable. All plumbing services should come with proven credentials. That means the unit needs to meet the health and safety codes of state and local buildings for your health and safety.
If there is a problem with the drains because of something pertaining to installation or improper maintenance, the landlord would be responsible for the repairs. Depending on the severity of the clog, they may decide to remodel the entire kitchen to fix the pipe, and could even incorporate a more innovative design for your home comfort.
WHEN IS A TENANT RESPONSIBLE?
The financial responsibility would fall on you if the clog was a result of your misuse or neglect. This could include a drain that’s clogged due to pieces of food, hair, and even small items. To be sure, however, you may want to check your lease agreement to find out who is responsible for repairs in these situations. If it’s clearly stated in the lease that if clogs are caused by the tenant, they have to take responsibility and fix it, you’ll have to take care of it on your own.
If the issue is more complicated, don’t try to fix it on your own. Instead, arrange for a plumber to come and help you. If the information is not stated in the lease, call or send an email to your landlord. Clearly explain the issue to them, and ask them how they’d like to proceed. In some cases, they may decide to take care of it on their own. In others, they could decide to bill you for the cost.
HOW TO PREVENT BLOCKED DRAINS?
To prevent such a problem from happening in the first place, there are a few things you can do to minimize blocked drains. Some examples include:
- Not throwing starchy foods such as rice down the drain
- Pouring all oil, grease and cooled cooking fats into a can and disposing of it in the trash instead
- Wiping down all of your greasy pots, pans, and dishes with a disposable cloth before washing. If not, these liquid oils will solidify in the drain and cause it to clog
- Try not to overload the garbage disposal by stuffing food pieces in it. If you’re using the waste disposal, keep cold water running and don’t use warm water and soap to wash grease down
- Don’t put fibrous foods into the waste disposal. This includes banana peels, celery, onion skins and more
- Keep small items such as bottle caps and plastic wraps out of the drain
- Purchase a sink strainer and place it in all areas of your home that have a drain so that it’ll catch hair and food pieces, and you can toss it in the trash
- Use mesh screens or a tub stopper with a screen to help keep hair out of the drain
To make things easier on you, you’d also want to make sure that you and your landlord are on the same page when it comes to fixing these repairs. There’s nothing more stressful than realizing at the last minute that you’re obligated to pay to get your pipe unclogged. By ironing out all these details early, you’d be better prepared in handling the issue.
Blocked drains are a common occurrence for most households and they can be a pain to handle if you don’t know what you’re doing. To minimize this situation from happening, consider practicing the steps detailed above or alternatively, get in touch with our friendly team at Ashbury Plumbing — we can assist you with all of your plumbing needs.